Blog Archives

Michael Seth Starr is a guest on WFDU Radio

Author of the book Ringo: With a Little Help, Michael Seth Starr, spoke with Ghosty host of The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop. They spoke about the book, why he chose to focus on Ringo and gave some background on the Beatles. Listen to the podcast below to hear the entire interview and leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

>>Listen<<

00333865Ringo: With a Little Help is the first in-depth biography of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who kept the beat for an entire generation and who remains a rock icon over fifty years since the Beatles took the world by storm. With a Little Help traces the entire arc of Ringo’s remarkable life and career, from his sickly childhood to his life as The World’s Most Famous drummer to his triumphs, addictions, and emotional battles following the breakup of the Beatles as he comes to terms with his legacy.

Born in 1940 as Richard Starkey in the Dingle, one of Liverpool’s most gritty, rough-and-tumble neighborhoods, he rose from a hardscrabble childhood – marked by serious illnesses, long hospital stays, and little schooling – to emerge, against all odds, as a locally renowned drummer. Taking the stage name Ringo Starr, his big break with the Beatles rocketed him to the pinnacle of worldwide acclaim in a remarkably short time. He was the last member of the Beatles to join the group but also the most vulnerable, and his post-Beatles career was marked by chart-topping successes, a jet-setting life of excess and alcohol abuse, and, ultimately, his rebirth as one of rock’s revered elder statesman.

Don Randi on BBC Radio!

Don Randi, author of You’ve Heard These Hands, was Spencer Leigh’s guest on BBC Merseyside’s On the Beat. They spoke about Don Randi’s musical background and the many people that he worked with as a member of The Wrecking Crew. Listen to the podcast below to learn more!

>>Listen<<

00140980With that, Don Randi begins his introduction to You’ve Heard These Hands: From the Wall of Sound to the Wrecking Crew and Other Incredible Stories, a fascinating look at the life and musical times a keyboard musician, composer, arranger, music director, and record producer who has thrilled music lovers for years, even if they weren’t aware of it.

Randi played keyboards on over a thousand popular recordings and was a member of the remarkable “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians during the explosive pop music era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Neil Diamond, and Linda Ronstadt are among the many music greats Randi has worked with and writes about in You’ve Heard These Hands.

For many years, only music industry insiders, close friends, and jazz fans who visit Randi’s nightclub, The Baked Potato, have heard him tell some of the amazing, heartfelt, and hilarious personal stories in this collection. Now everyone can discover the in-studio, behind-the-scenes, and on-tour tales from the man whose hands we’ve heard playing on our favorite hit tunes. You’ve Heard These Hands will capture the attention and emotion of its readers, who won’t be able to resist sharing Randi’s stories with their friends.

John Breglio visits Bloomberg Radio!

John Breglio, author of I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed, spoke with Kathleen Hays and Pimm Fox hosts of Taking Stock on Bloomberg Radio. Listen to the podcast below as they talk about John Breglio’s life in theater and before, Patti LuPone, and opening nights!

>>Listen<<

IWannaBeCOVERWhat does a “producer” actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? John Breglio cannot guarantee you a hit, but he does take the reader on a fascinating journey behind-the-scenes to where he himself once stood as a child, dreaming about the theatre.

Part memoir, part handbook, I Wanna Be a Producer is a road map to the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play, written by a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years of experience. This comprehensive and highly informative book features practical analysis and concepts for the producer – and is filled with entertaining anecdotes from Breglio’s illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer. Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind the scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks. Whether you are a working or aspiring producer, an investor, or are just curious about the backstage reality of the theater, Breglio shares his knowledge and experience of the industry, conveying practical information set against the real-life stories of those who have devoted their lives to the craft.

Shelly Peiken on SongCraft: Spotlight on Songwriters

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, was on the SongCraft Show! She spoke with hosts Scott Bomar, author of Southbound, a book published by Backbeat books, and Paul Duncan. She talks about what inspired her to write songs, her experience with certain artist, and how the book came to be! The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!

>>Listen<<

COASS-Final_CVR_152159Shelly Peiken, well known for writing culturally resonant, female-empowerment anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s No. 1 hit “What a Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’s smash hit, “Bitch,” looks back on her career and inside the business of songwriting in her memoir, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99).

A humorous and poignant pop culture memoir about Peiken’s journey, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter takes readers into the rarefied world of the music business. From a young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to a working professional writing hits of her own, Peiken describes how she built a career, from fledgling songwriter, pounding the streets of New York City to Grammy nominations, international hits, and the first Number One song of the millennium.

David Wild, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, calls Confessions of a Serial Songwriter “a great book [that offers] an insightful, honest, often funny, emotional look inside the good, the bad, the ugly, and ultimately the transcendent aspects of trying to lead a creative life inside a competitive career.”

In addition to the fascinating biographical trajectory, Peiken presents invaluable information for the aspiring songwriter, including tips about the creative process and how to adapt to the constantly changing currents. “Now more than ever, people who want to enter this topsy-turvy world of professional songwriting need to know how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that accompany what, for me, has a been an incredibly gratifying journey,” said Peiken.

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Peiken writes about personal growth, how to recognize your muse and navigate the creative process as well as the struggles that arise between motherhood and career success. While she’s not afraid to delve into the divas, celebrity egos and schemers, it is the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way that predominate the text. And, finally, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter raises the obvious though universal challenge of getting older and staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world.

John Kruth on The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop!

John Kruth, author of This Bird Has Flown, was on WFDU Radio! He spoke with Ghosty, host of The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop. They spent some time talking about This Bird Has Flown, and how Rubber Soul was a game changer for popular music.  The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!

>>Listen<<

00121941The Beatles’ sixth studio album, Rubber Soul, was a game changer, and in This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On, (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99) John Kruth not only analyzes the songs and making of Rubber Soul, putting the album in context of the turbulent times in which it was created, but captures the spirit of musical innovation and poetry that makes the record a standout in the Beatle’s canon.

By December 1965, when the album was released, the Beatles had played the first arena rock show at Shea Stadium for 55,000 delirious fans, been awarded MBE (Member of British Empire) medals, and were indisputably the greatest musical phenomenon since Elvis Presley. With their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, John, Paul, George, and Ringo laid down the blueprint for everyone who ever wanted to form a group. The movie, entertaining as it was, became an instruction manual for aspiring pop stars of the day on how to play, dress, and act. Richard Lester’s 1964 comedy turned out to be the touchstone for every music video that followed.

Then, with the release of Rubber Soul, the Beatles created an artistic benchmark to which their peers measured their craft and creativity. Touring the world over two years, the band had grown up fast. Both musically and lyrically their new album represented a major leap. Upon hearing Rubber Soul, Bob Dylan allegedly remarked, “I get it, you’re not cute anymore.” Newsweek hailed the Beatles as “the Bards of Pop,” while critic Greil Marcus claimed Rubber Soul was “the best album they would ever make.” For Traffic’s Steve Winwood, the album “broke everything open. It crossed music into a whole new dimension and was responsible for kicking off the sixties rock era.”

A must-have for Fab Four devotees, This Bird Has Flown reaffirms Rubber Soul’s place as one of the most important rock ’n’ roll albums ever made.

Shelly Peiken on The Pauly Cast!

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, was on The Pauly Cast podcast. She spoke with Paul Samuel Dolman about her book, the importance of connecting with others, and much more! The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!

>>Listen<<

COASS-Final_CVR_152159Shelly Peiken, well known for writing culturally resonant, female-empowerment anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s No. 1 hit “What a Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’s smash hit, “Bitch,” looks back on her career and inside the business of songwriting in her memoir, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99).

A humorous and poignant pop culture memoir about Peiken’s journey, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter takes readers into the rarefied world of the music business. From a young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to a working professional writing hits of her own, Peiken describes how she built a career, from fledgling songwriter, pounding the streets of New York City to Grammy nominations, international hits, and the first Number One song of the millennium.

David Wild, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, calls Confessions of a Serial Songwriter “a great book [that offers] an insightful, honest, often funny, emotional look inside the good, the bad, the ugly, and ultimately the transcendent aspects of trying to lead a creative life inside a competitive career.”

In addition to the fascinating biographical trajectory, Peiken presents invaluable information for the aspiring songwriter, including tips about the creative process and how to adapt to the constantly changing currents. “Now more than ever, people who want to enter this topsy-turvy world of professional songwriting need to know how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that accompany what, for me, has a been an incredibly gratifying journey,” said Peiken.

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Peiken writes about personal growth, how to recognize your muse and navigate the creative process as well as the struggles that arise between motherhood and career success. While she’s not afraid to delve into the divas, celebrity egos and schemers, it is the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way that predominate the text. And, finally, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter raises the obvious though universal challenge of getting older and staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world.

Dave Thompson on Lincoln Live!

Dave Thompson, author of The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ,spoke with Dale Johnson of Lincoln Live. They spoke about the writer of the play Richard O’Brien, what drew Dave Thompson to writing the book, and more! Listen to what they had to say in the podcast below!

>>LISTEN<<

00139671When assessing the cultural impact of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, author Dave Thompson does not pull his punches: “Forty-plus years on from its debut in a tiny London theater; four decades, too, from its transition to the silver screen, Rocky Horror stands among the 1970s’ most lasting, and successful, contributions to modern culture.”

Thompson’s latest contribution to the Applause Books FAQ series, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ (April 2016, Applause Books, $19.99) is the in-depth story of not only the legendary stage show and movie, but of a unique period in theatrical history, in both the movie’s UK homeland and overseas.

Inside these pages, we see Rocky Horror as sexual cabaret and political subversion, as modern mega-hit and Broadway disaster. At the movie house, we learn when to shout, what to throw, and why people even do those things. Here is the full story of the play’s original creation; its forebears and its influences are laid out in loving detail, together with both the triumphs and tragedies that attended it across the next 40 years.

Packed with anecdotes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ is the story of dozens of worldwide performances and the myriad stars who have been featured in them. From Tim Curry to Anthony Head, from Reg Livermore to Gary Glitter, from Daniel Abineri to Tom Hewitt, the lives and careers of the greatest ever Frank N. Furters stalk the pages, joined by the Riff-Raffs, Magentas, Columbias, and all the rest.

The book also includes the largest and most in-depth Rocky Horror discography ever published, plus a unique timeline – The Ultimate Rocky Horror Chronology – detailing the who, what, where, and when of absolute pleasure.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ will have you doing the Time Warp again!

Tom DeMichael speaks with Ed Randall on WFAN!

Tom DeMichael author of Baseball FAQ, helped host Ed Randall get ready for the upcoming baseball season when he was a  guest WFAN’s Talking Baseball. Click on the link below to hear the full interview!

>>LISTEN<<

00131156For 10 years, the Backbeat Books FAQ Series has been a one-stop source for information, history, and minutiae on the world of music and pop culture. The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, The Doors and Johnny Cash, Dracula and the Beats any many more all have gone under the FAQ microscope. Now the FAQ Series has turned its focus to America’s Pastime.              

Was Abner Doubleday the architect of baseball? What exactly did it mean to be a “professional” baseball player in the 1870s? What goes on in the front office? How do you throw a slider? Readers will find the answers to these questions – and many others – in the pages Baseball FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Pastime (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99) by Tom DeMichael.

Part history book, part instructional guide, and part reference manual, Baseball FAQ covers all the bases – from the rules of the game to the ballparks of yesterday and today, from the minor leagues to the majors, from the stats to the food. This engaging, compulsively readable tome offers baseball fans of all ages a wealth of fun facts and anecdotes on America’s favorite pastime, including sections on the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, the Negro Leagues, the basic skills of baseball, baseball in the movies, the scandals, and the Hall of Famers.

DeMichael, a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, also digs to into the sport’s seemingly inexhaustible fascination with numbers. While the 19th-century journalist Henry Chadwick was the father of baseball statistics, it was Bill James who coined the term “Sabermetrics” in 1980 and ushered in the era of modern statistical analysis. DeMichael defines Sabermetrics as “an accurate and balanced method by which we can compare players from different eras,” and Baseball FAQ looks at the latest wave of statistical acronyms, including OPS, WHIP, FIP, and WAR.

Looking beyond the wins and losses and the runs, hits, and errors, Baseball FAQ is a remarkable baseball reference and fun-filled reading for fans of the game.

Elliott Landy is a guest on the Wall of Power Radio Hour

Elliott Landy author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, spoke with Paul Metsa, host of the Wall of Power Radio Hour about how he approached his work, his respect for the Band, and how he became the official photographer of the Woodstock Music Festival. Click on the link below to hear what they had to say!

 >>LISTEN<<

00146104On rare exalted occasions, a photographer gains the trust of a performer or band, and his work fuses with theirs in such a way that the two entities become “married” in the public consciousness. One can think of David Duncan’s pictures of Picasso at work or Alfred Wertheimer’s pictures of Elvis backstage in 1956.

The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 (December 2015, Backbeat Books, $44.99), Elliott Landy’s chronicle of the Band from 1968 to 1969, is of such importance. The mutual trust and collaborative partnership was so deep that this collection of photographs forms an intimate portrait of a group of musicians not only engaged in their craft, but captured as they created a new genre of music.  

Originally crowdfunded by what would become Kickstarter’s highest funded campaign for a photography book, The Band Photographs, 1968-1969 features more than 200 photographs documenting the making of the Band’s first two albums, Music from Big Pink and The Band. More than half of the photos, drawn from Landy’s archive of more than 12,000 images, have never been published before.

“I designed and created this book entirely in my own studio, with complete creative control,” Landy explained. “Because of this, I was able to lay out the photos as I wanted, in order to create the most harmonious visual book experience and communicate what was going on in front of the camera.

The book also features commentary from John Simon, who produced the Band’s first two albums and was considered the Band’s sixth member, and an introduction by Jonathan Taplin, tour manager for the Band from 1969 to 1972. As Taplin writes in his foreword, “In a sense, these pictures are the photographic analogue of The Band’s song, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’—harkening back to the formal portraiture of Matthew Brady and other late 19th Century photographers. But these pictures are honest and true. They live in the photographic tradition of Robert Frank’s The Americans. Elliott’s images are a record of a wonderfully creative period in America that won’t come again.”

Trevor Tolliver talks about Lesley Gore on WFDU Radio!

Author Trevor Tolliver spoke with Ghosty on WFDU’s Vintage Rock & Pop Shop radio show about his book, You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore. Listen to that and more by clicking on the link below!

>>LISTEN<<

00146488The year was 1963. Tail fins were in, sock hops were hot, and a fairy-tale white knight was president.

That summer, 16-year-old singer Lesley Gore released her debut single, “It’s My Party,” propelling her to Number One on the charts. For the next several years, the crowned Princess of Pop dominated the radio with a string of hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows,” and the rousing anthem for independence, “You Don’t Own Me,” making her the most successful and influential solo female artist of the 1960s. But beneath the bubblegum façade was a girl squirming against social and professional pressures to simply be herself and to forge a future where she could write and perform music beyond the trappings of teenage angst and love triangles.

Assembled over five years of research and interviews, You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore by Trevor Tolliver (September 2015, Backbeat Books, $27.99) is the first and long-overdue biography of Lesley Gore, one of pop music’s pioneering Mothers. Tolliver chronicles Gore’s meteoric rise to fame, her devastating fall from popularity and struggle for relevance in the 1970s, and her reemergence as a powerful songwriter, political activist, and camp icon.

You Don’t Own Me includes behind-the-scenes stories about the making of her hit records, debunks or clarifies popular myths about her career, and places her remarkable life and times within a historical context to reveal how her music was both impacted by, and contributed to, each decade of her astounding fifty-year career.

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